Such, Such Were the Joys (cont’d)

Today, FedUp Mom answers the final question she posed five weeks ago in her guest post where she suggested that people read Such, Such Were the Joys by George Orwell. Read her answers to the other questions she posed here, here, here, and here. And, of course, don’t forget to chime in with your own answer.

(A big thanks to FedUp Mom for taking the time to write and for her thought-provoking posts. If you want to write your own guest post, please email me.)

Such, Such Thursdays
by FedUp Mom
(part 5)

QUESTION #5 (Extra Credit):

(from Such, Such Were the Joys)

“There never was, I suppose, in the history of the world a time when the sheer vulgar fatness of wealth, without any kind of aristocratic elegance to redeem it, was so obtrusive as in those years before 1914… The extraordinary thing was the way in which everyone took it for granted that this oozing, bulging wealth of the English upper and upper-middle classes would last for ever, and was part of the order of things… How would St. Cyprian’s appear to me now, if I could go back, at my present age, and see it as it was in 1915 [when Orwell left the school]? … I should see them [the Headmaster and his wife] as a couple of silly, shallow, ineffectual people, eagerly clambering up a social ladder which any thinking person could see to be on the point of collapse.”

How does Orwell’s historical moment compare to our own? Is our social ladder on the point of collapse?


The moment Orwell describes, of smug wealth on the verge of catastrophe, is of course very similar to our situation about two years ago, and similar to the situation in the US on the verge of the Great Depression. Now that we have embarked on another economic collapse, what changes can we expect to see to our schools?

It is clear that the public schools will soon be hurting badly. They were kept afloat for a while by federal stimulus money, but that will run out over the next couple of years. We will see programs being cut. I’ve heard through the grapevine that our local public elementary school is already experiencing overcrowded classrooms. The job market for new teachers is terrible.

At the same time, NCLB remains in place, and everyone is fixated on test scores. So less money will mean fewer “frills” like gifted ed, arts, and music . The grade-level tests, which were meant to function as a floor, have become the ceiling that nobody bothers to teach beyond.

As the recession continues to unravel our economy, the public schools will continue their descent. If we’re lucky, we’ll see some growth in alternative schooling, including homeschooling co-ops. Anyone who can manage it will send their kids to private schools.

What do you predict?

6 thoughts on “Such, Such Were the Joys (cont’d)

  1. Being Canadian, our experience with the recession has been …I guess “blunted” would be a good word. Those invested in the stock market lost some money which hasn’t all been recovered yet, but I think the States took a harder hit on many more fronts.

    Our public systems seem to be a bit better but still, we aren’t anywhere near where we need to be with education and healthcare to cope with what’s coming. The old folks and the kids are getting the short ends of the stick.

    I try to be hopeful. When I put my rose coloured glasses on I hope that the two groups (kids and seniors) find a way to co-mingle because they have the potential to offer much to one another. Kids need someone to be kind to them, to allow them to be kids..and the older folks need to keep up with computers and “the world” in general. A little humanity needs to come into the equation as well…there’s no point to this stuffing in of knowledge unless we put some value back into childhood and some richness into the elder years.


  2. More and more content at the cost of more and more creativity and thinking.

    The government is further promoting the development of automatons; which, frankly seems in keeping with the overall government.

    This is why I will probably take my oldest child out of school next year. I figure I can’t muck it up as badly as they are, and maybe his spirit won’t be as bruised.


  3. K said:

    More and more con­tent at the cost of more and more cre­ativ­ity and thinking.

    K, what I see is that our public schools have managed to triple the workload while actually *decreasing* intellectual content. It’s a neat trick.

    PsychMom, it must be a different picture on your side of the border. You probably didn’t have the crazy housing bubble and runaway bank fraud that we did. Hey, we’re #1! (at wrecking the economy.)

    It reminds me of a joke that went the rounds back when the Soviet Union fell apart, and all of our politicians were bragging, “we won the cold war!”

    The joke was that actually the Soviet Union won, because “the USSR and the US were in a race to see whose system would collapse first … the USSR won by a hair.”


  4. Many years ago, several of our big banks wanted to merge so that they could compete better out in the big world. Our Finance guys in Ottawa at the time said, “uh, if it’s Ok with you guys, we’d rather you didn’t” that typically polite Canadian way. So they weren’t allowed to.
    We still have a stodgy (I mean, safer) attitude about lending and risk in this country ( “you have to have money before we’ll lend you any”) which also saved us in 2008. And they don’t ask women anymore, who come into a bank alone to ask for a loan, where their husbands are, but they did not that long ago. Sunday shopping has only been allowed in Nova Scotia in the last 3 years. I’m not kidding.

    Sure we have people who are in debt up to their eyeballs and their children’s eyeballs, but so far I think their grandchildren’s eyeballs are still above water. Housing prices are nuts though.


  5. [Warning: CanCon–as we Canucks call it (ie, Canadian Content)]

    You’re right, PyschMom. The irony is that Canadian banks are now patting themselves on the backs for their lack of risky behaviour, when actually they lobbied the previous government quite hard to be able to enter into the more questionable areas of banking. They claimed at the time that they needed to offer the shadier services in order to compete with American banks. It was the strict regulations in place at the time, not the banks themselves, that allowed the Canadian financial system to emerge relatively unscathed from the latest collapse.

    That said, we still have a ridiculous real estate bubble (especially here in Toronto), and our educational system in Ontario is chronically underfunded–this because of massive cuts by a previous provincial government–the same one that brought in a standardized curriculum and standardized testing (but not the above-mentioned federal government, which helped prevent the banking crisis, and which has little jurisdiction over education in Canada).

    [End Cancon; but, you will be tested on this!]


  6. More and more content at the cost of more and more creativity and thinking.

    The government is further promoting the development of automatons; which, frankly seems in keeping with the overall government.

    This is why I will probably take my oldest child out of school next year. I figure I can’t muck it up as badly as they are, and maybe his spirit won’t be as bruised.


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